Report on September’s talk by Kate Mayne of Carmarthenshire Vets

Septembers excellent talk was given to us by Kate Mayne from Carmarthenshire Vets. We all know that vets provide a 24/7 emergency service or treatment when something goes wrong. Kate was keen to impress on us that they can also provide telephone advice, do farmyard visits, preventative treatment including vaccinations, treatments and/or surgery (including hospitalising calves!) They can offer animal husbandry advice, helping out with flock planning or teaching skills, such as foot trimming or caring for the neonatal lamb. In Carmarthenshire they are able to do blood analysis, and have a small laboratory within the practise (although specialist blood screen still need to be sent away), they can assist with de-budding, fertility issues, castration/vasectomy, and skin scrapes.

Kate felt that prevention was better than cure, so use your vet as a resource of information. They are keen to be involved in flock/herd planning -a requirement for farm assurance schemes, but helpful to smallholders. She explained they do not need to be complex -even a calender with regular tasks planned in (such as worming/vaccinations) laminated and kept to hand can improve general management.

Parasite control was a much discussed issue on the night. With general agreement that a helpful strategies include;

  • effective quarantine, to prevent importation of parasites to your stock,

  • testing for worm resistance (in sheep & cattle)

  • administering wormer effectively, selecting the correct wormer for the job, getting the dose correct, making sure the animal receives the entire dose (under dosing being the worst thing you can do -as this enables wormer resistance to develop),

  • rotational grazing, to prevent a build up of parasites, and adopting strategies to preserve susceptible worms (to prevent resistance – which you can do by dosing 90% of the flock or turning a completely dosed flock onto dirty pasture for 48 hours following worming)

  • reducing reliance on wormers (through genetics -picking breeds with more natural resistance)

  • field mapping -knowing which fields are prone to parasites

  • symbiotic grazing -grazing geese/ducks on fields affected by fluke to eat up snails who form part of the flukes life cycle

Kate highlighted (to the delight of some listeners) that alpacas and goats have very different needs. Alpacas are very sensitive to worms and wormers -so will need individualised plans to control parasites. Goats should not be treated as sheep; they have a higher metabolic rate which causes them to tolerate vaccinations differently, and may need more frequent or stronger doses of medication. She also informed us that WAG (Welsh Assembly Government) can now insist on TB testing of goats, alpacas and deer.

Her over-riding message to us was -if in doubt call the vet!